The Most Dangerous Airport in the World

Lukla Airport, now known as Tenzing-Hillary Airport, is rated as one of the most dangerous airports in the world and a program titled “Most Extreme Airports” broadcast in the History Channel in 2010, rated the airport as the most dangerous airport in the world.

So this was to be our arrival point for this start of our 7 day Himalayan trek up the Everest Base Camp trail – as if the trek was not hard enough we had to survive the landing and then the take-off from this incredible runway.

The airport is popular because Lukla is the place where most people start the climb to Mount Everest Base Camp. There are daily flights between Lukla and Kathmandu during daylight hours, in good weather. Although the flying distance is short, rain commonly occurs in Lukla while the sun is shining brightly in Kathmandu. High winds, cloud cover and changing visibility often mean flights can be delayed or the airport closed completely. The airport is contained within a chain link fence and patrolled by the Nepali armed police or civil police around the clock.

The airport’s paved asphalt runway is only accessible to helicopters and small, fixed-wing, short-takeoff-and-landing aircraft, such as the De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter or Dornier Do 228. Tara Air also operates two Pilatus PC-6 Turbo Porter aircraft that visit Lukla on a charter basis. The runway is 460 by 20 m (1,510 by 66 ft) with a 12% gradient. The elevation of the airport is 2,800 m (9,200 ft).

Aircraft can only use runway 06 for landings and runway 24 for takeoffs. Due to the terrain, there is no prospect of a successful go-around on short final. There is high terrain immediately after the northern end of the runway and a steeply angled drop, of about 2,000 m (6,600 ft) at the southern end of the runway, into the valley below. The apron has four stands and there is one helipad located 140 m (460 ft) from the control tower. No landing aids are available and the only air traffic service is an Aerodrome Flight Information Service.

The video below shows a typical landing at the airport.

Leave a Reply